proud (part two)


First off, I want to explain that these posts about Seattle will come out in a series simply because there is too much detail to cram in any other way and I don’t want to disremember anything (just made up that word).  I just want to give this magical red carpet trip the respect that it deserves.

Plus, I kid you not when I say I literally developed a stomach ache that lasted for over 24 hours on my second day there which I decided was my body’s inability to adequately digest all the WOW that was being fed to me minute by minute.  And I surely don’t want any of us going through that (again).  So please bear with me.

Where did we leave off?

Oh, yes, I was at the Market, at Lowell’s just having finished my first foodtail crawl snack.


I packed up half those croquettes to go, untouched, and gave them to a homeless fella on the sidewalk

I also had a nice little chat there with the British bartender about Washington wines which I really did not partake enough of while I was there.  Another reason to go back.

I walked back downstairs from my Lowell’s perch and just decided to roam the market aimlessly to walk off a few calories and get my juices flowing before my next food/drink stop.  I also wanted to check out a few places I thought about going later, like this tucked away speakeasy called ZigZag which is known for amazing cocktails.  After going up and down several flights of stairs (huff puff), I found it, closed.  So I bookmarked it for later and climbed back up to the market.


I saw so many things and heard some truly amazing music by street musicians as I roamed around.  I have to say though my absolute favorite was this gal:


She stands like a bronze statue for minutes until someone puts money in her urn then she moves so slowly and distinctly, like Abraham Lincoln at the Hall of Presidents in Disneyland.  I put a dollar in and she batted her wiry eyelashes at me and blew me a slow motion staccato kiss.  I was completely mesmerized by this gal.  What discipline!  I think I could hold a pose like that for about 3 seconds tops.  She does it all day long.  Impressive!

I stopped and got a fortune from one of those machines like in the movie Big and this is what the urban turbaned fortune teller served me up:


Indeed, but who’s the Sagittarian?

I saw and smelled and listened to so many things that are jumbled in my mind like a kaleidoscope right now until I strolled in to another stop on my intended crawl:  Maximilien’s french restaurant.  Another place with a fantastic view.


What a cozy but casual yet fancy kind of place!  I saw an older gentleman at the bar eating a huge platter of oysters and sat a few seats down from him saying hello.  He greeted me back.  I have to say I really wish I loved oysters.  I so wish it.  Oysters seem so me.  I’m surprised that I really can’t get on the oyster train.  One beautiful oddity I once found out about my past though had to do with oyster stuffing.

My father used to make this oyster stuffing for every Thanksgiving.  My Dad makes the most amazing stuffing ever.  He would basically pull out some of his already made Peppridge Farm stuffing then put oysters in it and require us to “just have a taste” every year.  We always turned up our noses because, well really, oysters and turkey and you’re a kid?  No.

I finally confessed sometime in my 20’s to my Dad that I actually liked his oyster stuffing but I just liked the flavor if I picked out the oysters themselves.

I’ll never forget the shocked dropped jaw look on his face when I said that.

“Your mother used to love oyster stew but she would pick out the oysters” he semi gasped back in that amazed kind of way when the unexplained lands before his eyes.

It’s one of a short list of things I know I have in common with my mother- oysterless oyster foods.

But I digress (it was a good digression though, right?).

The oyster eating older gentleman finishes up paying his check a few bar stools down and says to me “when I get up, you have to move over in to this seat, it’s the best view in the house”.

See what I mean?  Sit at the bar.  People are super friendly there.

So scoot over I did, and he was right.  But you know who appeared, yes of course you do.  My Lady Grande Dame, looming, slowly circling like a hand waving me over.  Hypnotizing me.


What was also in my field of vision was this:


Yes please, I said.

Then I ordered the French cheese plate to go with it.  Just a perfect afternoon snack.  This is my favorite kind of eating.

The bartender was french and cute and formal yet friendly at the same time.

I just sat there, relaxing, enjoying every bite and every moment of this warm and welcoming atmosphere.


Sometime during my second pour, the white, a couple joined me at the bar.  They had some kind of midwestern sounding accent.  Which is kind of funny for me to say seeing I’m from the Midwest (but I don’t have an accent, I’m sure! 😉 ).

I was entertained listening to them peruse the menu “well they don’t have anything on here I’m interested in” the husband scoffed.

The wife asked the french bartender “do you have any White Zinfandel?“.  I think I was probably cringing too hard to hear his response.

He finally settled on the French onion soup and she on a salad of some sort.  I have to give them props for even coming in there in the first place.  Everyone starts somewhere right? << Snob alert!>>


not sure what that dollar is doing under my hand but it adds to the snob appeal 🙂

As I sat there drifting in to the Sound, the sky, the Grand Dame, the wine, the flavors I started dreaming about what I wanted to do that evening.  A totally free evening in Seattle.  What does a person do?

Jazz.  That’s what a person does.  You go out and listen to jazz.

So, thank God for the creation of Iphones because I then went a googlin.

And that’s when the Universe stopped me dead in my tracks again.  The clouds parted and the angels started singing Halleluiah all their trumpets pointed in my direction.  I’m pretty sure the bronze statue lady stopped her posing and did a little jig.  The Grand Dame may have ceased  her spinning over it.

First, let me back up a minute (sorry but to quote Willy Wonka quoting Oscar Wilde “The suspense is terrible, I hope it will last” so enjoy it!).

About a decade ago I purchased a CD called Brazilian Romance.  I think I likely picked it up at Target at one of those kiosks that’s famous for “Quiet Moods” and “Seaside Fantasy” types of compilations.

brazilian romance

I think this is probably my favorite CD of all time (close second to Annie Lenox DIVA).  In particular I’ve been obsessed with one song on there called Faltando Um Pedaco.

Guess what?  You can listen to it right here:

In fact, I’m listening to it right now as I’m writing this.

You know how a certain song just strums your heart strings no matter how many times you listen to it?

Yes, it’s that song for me.

It often makes me cry simply with it’s beauty and poignancy.  In some odd way, I would consider this song my theme song.

Interestingly the title translates to “Missing a Piece”.  I guess there isn’t any wonder, huh?  Oh damn now I’m making myself cry with this heart melting song in the background thinking about that.

I hope you listen to it and let me know what you think.

So I took this CD with me to Rancho La Puerta last July which I do every time I go.  Since there are no TV’s or technology there (aka a breath of fresh air), I listen to music a lot in my room on the small CD player they have for guests.

I must have listened to this one song about 5 times a day during my last stay.  I just kept hitting repeat.  Don’t get me wrong, the entire CD is AMAZING but this song……it’s just…..well, that.

So when I got home this time I decided to research this song a bit seeing we’ve been having a love affair for a decade or so.  Funny how I always imagined it was the Brazilian lady on the front of the CD singing to me.  You can imagine my surprise when I found out the vocalist is a blond haired blue eyed gal from Kansas.

Karrin Allyson


So I started diving in to researching her.  Where she lives, what else she records, does she tour, etc.  I thought it might be a fun trip sometime to go to Kansas just to see her in person perform.

Can you guess where I might be going here right now?  Try it, just try and guess.


Picture me, dreamy, french wine filled on a bar stool overlooking the ocean, googling jazz clubs and landing on one called Jazz Alley.

And there she is fresh as a Brazilian breeze wafting right out of my iphone and in to my soul.

Karrin Allyson is playing there, all weekend.  Just this weekend.


Tears sprung to my eyes as I pulled out my credit card and purchased my ticket.  Just $24.50 for a dream come true.  And here I was prepared to buy a plane ticket to go see her.  And she’s landed in Seattle the same day I did.

See what I mean about digesting?  Just take a moment because I know I just blew you away there.


Golden gleaming serendipity, my friends, streaming in to my life like liquid honey joy.

I took another sip of my wine, smiling to myself and wanting to share my good fortune, turned to the couple next to me.

I pulled out my Bitch’s broom and swept out the forming cobwebs of snooty judgment from my mind and said “can I tell you something amazing that just happened to me?” and shared my story in some sort of jerky way as I was still shaking from the infusion of this miracle.  Sometimes they land so hard and fast they leave an impact ripple.

That’s the thing about this kind of transmission, it magnifies when shared.  And again, sitting at a bar, leaves you open opportunities for doing just that if a ball of light like this lands in your lap.

The wife was a bit confused but completely touched by my story.  Then shared about how they were visiting their daughter who’d recently moved to Seattle.  Then she extended an invitation that would have surprised me if I wasn’t beyond surprising at that moment.

She invited me to go on the Wheel with her.  The Grande Dame.

“My husband refuses to go with me and I really want to go”.

Now they had finished their soups and salads and I was still very leisurely enjoying my wine and cheese and was about halfway through so we were leaving at different times.


As much as I totally appreciated her invitation, I knew I wasn’t going down there to meet her as she casually suggested.

Two reasons:  I had a concert to get ready for and if I was going to introduce myself to the Grande Dame, I was going alone.  It was just that kind of respect we both deserved I figured.

Anyway, sometimes an invitation is more about the invitation itself than the event.  This was one of those times.

I finished my french snack, packed myself up and headed out of the market stopping to pick up two bouquets of flowers.


My walk back up the hill to the hotel was decidedly more springy than I’d anticipated while walking down because I was infused with something greater than my own cardiovascular stamina right now.

I got back to my room, changed clothes, grabbed the notepad and pen from the hotel and one of the bouquets and hailed a cab to Jazz Alley.  I wanted to make sure I got there plenty early to get a good seat.

And a good seat it was, right up in front.

This place was not about the food at all I’ll just say so let’s skip that.  I had a coffee and a Campari and a couple of nibbles of some chewy calamari and sat there and wrote Karrin Allyson my love note.


The show was small and intimate with a quartet–guitar player, stand up bass and drummer.  She knows these fellas well.  Karrin played piano herself off and on throughout.


no pictures were allowed during the show and I respect that

She is younger and spunkier than I’d imagined her although had seen many photos by then.

She sang in Portuguese, English and French.

At one point she said “can I get something more substantial up here to drink?  Champagne?  Anyone out there get me a glass of champagne?”.  It was just so cute and you know champagne IS my drink!

I loved every minute of that show.  Every single minute.  She has such a perfect voice.  I held back tears during one of her songs.

I pulled out my journal and wrote these lyrics down:

“…follow the footsteps we left and I’ll find you there…”


After the 90 minute show, she exited the stage right past me and I tucked my love note in the flowers and handed them to her.  She said, still mic’d “See? That’s how it’s done”. 🙂

She was selling CD’s there so I purchased one where she sings in both Portuguese and French and she signed it for me. Of course I got to hug her and tell her my story.  Not only did she love it but a couple standing nearby did as well and the wife told me her own miracle story of getting to the concert having won the tickets through the radio (but was planning on coming anyway).  Her last name is Jingling.  Seriously, it is.  And she used to be a clown when she met her husband.


sorry dark and fuzzy but that’s me with Karrin Allyson

See, traveling alone you get in conversations you never might if you were engaged with your travel partner(s).  There’s a beauty in having open space around you (key word: open).

I walked out of the venue and lo and behold, in front of me was this sign.


We used to have one of those in Phoenix called the Cine Capri. In fact I was pretty active in the “Save the Cine Capri” project (failed).  There are very few Cinerama theatres left in the country and this is one.

I walked over (just across the street) and saw the movie Gravity was beginning in 45 minutes.  Just enough time to grab a cocktail at the Palace Kitchen next door and make it to the movie.  Normally I wouldn’t try and cram so many events in to one day/evening but a limited time makes a person feel a sense of urgency to take in as much as possible.

I walked in to the theatre and got an immediate blast of CHOCOLATE.  It was like brownies were baking!

They said “oh you don’t know about our chocolate popcorn?”.

This place makes regular AND chocolate popcorn…crazy!  My stomach was already starting to talk to me in unpleasant voices at that point so I graciously accepted the sample they offered me in a paper cone and took my seat in the grand theatre.

Oh how it made me miss the Cine Capri.  But glad I was able to be in this setting again.


I put on my 3d glasses and proceeded to get inundated with motion sickness for the next hour and a half.  I’m not saying it was a bad movie, it was good for what it was but it literally made me sick.

Which bummed me out as I really didn’t get dinner that evening and my plan was to head back to the Palace for a late night snack as they’d still be open, in fact I’d promised the bartender I was coming back.  But it was all I could do to pour myself in to the nearest cab, get back to the room and in to my jammies, spread out across that cushy king size bed, open the window and deeply exhale in to that shimmering Seattle air.


(to be continued)

proud (part one)


I don’t know the exact moment I laid eyes on her.

Probably as I rounded one of those bends on the I 5.  Trying to keep my focus ahead and look but not look.

I do remember my first impression of her; so tall, statuesque, confident, shimmering in her own splendor.

That bitch.

I arrived in Seattle at 10am.  Way before check in time at the Fairmont.  I was fully prepared to leave my car at the hotel and spend the rest of the morning/early afternoon roaming the city.  I had plenty to explore.  It was a bright, crisp partly sunny day so made easy for me.  Just like upgrading to first class for the flight up.  $50 upgrade with no bag fee, to me means a $30 upgrade. Yes please, I’ll take it.


view from my first class window seat

Winding in to the circle drive the valet greets me, tells me where to go park, offers to hold my suitcase until check in and then suggests I try to check in early.

“Never know, they might have your room ready” he suggests with a wink.


I easily find the parking garage one block over but man it’s packed.  Every single floor I’m corkscrewing up in to is filled with cars:  A, B, C, D, E, F “are they gonna go through the entire alphabet before I find a space on floor Z?” I wonder, getting dizzier by the moment.

On Level L, a man in a uniform appears out of nowhere and flags me down “you’re having trouble finding a space aren’t you?”.

How has he seen me? I wonder hoping I’ve not been picking my nose or shouting obscenities at the overstuffed garage.

I’d already suffered one embarrassing incident that day on the parking lot shuttle en route to the airport at 5am where a lady, deboarding, leans down and says “I don’t think anyone else will tell you but your shirt is inside out”.  I whipped it off and changed it right there between Terminal 4 and Terminal 2 on the bus.  In front of two strangers.  Hey, I announced it first reassuring them I had a camisole on underneath which I did.  “I got dressed in the dark” I said as they responded with a courteous nod.


The parking lot attendant directs me to one of two of the most convenient handicapped spots near the elevator “just use this one, we’re kind of full right now.  I’ll make a note of it”.  Nice. 🙂

I grab my purse, lock up the car and head over to the hotel, following the Valet’s suggestion, just out of curiosity.


The check in area is quaint, gold and elegant “I know I’m here super early but I’m checking in today….”

“Let me see if we have something available now” the young pretty brunette replies.

I guess all the First Class status I’d been enjoying all morning infused me with the nerve to say “I like as high as you can get.  I like rooms way up there”.

She smiles and says “I have room 1109 ready right now. We can go ahead and check you in”.


11 is the top floor of the hotel.


“Do you have any bags?” she inquires.

I tell her I’ve left it with the Valet and hand her the slip.  She assures me they will send it right up.


Wide eyed, I silk my way through the opulent great hall of the lobby area to the elevator and ride up swiftly to the 11th floor.  The top floor.

This hotel smells good.  Like gold, like honey, like rich people.  I’m pretty sure Oprah’s house smells like this.

I arrive in room 1109 and realize immediately I’m not in steerage anymore.  I’m still in First class. This is a freaking SUITE!  Two rooms, two TV’s a couch, arm chair, coffee table!

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Moments later the bellman arrives with my bag, fetches me a bucket of ice and tells me “you can drink the water right out of the tap here, we have some of the best drinking water in the country”.

I plug in my iphone that’s drained nearly entirely in the plane, make a cup of coffee, a glass of ice water, open the window and sit in my Executive Suite living room breathing in the fresh Seattle air.  It’s not even 11:00 am and I’m in heaven.


Now I got this room on Hotwire for less than 50% the going rate.  I know because I obsess over these things.  I was supposed to get a generic king bed room in the hotel (not saying anything in this hotel is generic mind you).  I know about all the levels of rooms because, well, you know, I obsess.  So I KNOW I’m in a big upgrade right now.  I’m in a freaking Executive Suite!  Two rooms, a sitting area and cozy but large bedroom with glass french doors between.  A large “getting ready” area outside the bathroom and a large marble tiled bathroom.  And a view!

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I love robes in a hotel

And I’m actually not even supposed to be in any room for 4 more hours.

The Gods of Seattle are most definitely smiling down on me.

I get a good charge on the phone, hang up some of my clothes, freshen up myself, make sure I’m not sporting any more wardrobe malfunctions, change my shoes to comfy walking booties, finish my liquids and head out in to the cool, fresh, humid downtown Seattle air.


yeah, I’m bundled up, I’m a wimp- layers people, layers!

That’s when I see her again.  Yeah, she’s still there.

Proud and tall against that partly cloudy but clearing by the minute sky.  How does she manage to gleam like that even under the clouds?

I look then look away.  I will deal with her later.

For now, I’ve got a market to explore.


Pike Place Market, another place I’ve researched to death.  I have a list of all the places I want to make sure and see as this place is huge, remembering the first stop I want to make is the famous Lowell’s for breakfast.

I find it easily after my senses being blasted out of the stratosphere with the flowers…all those flowers! Color! Everywhere!


Lowell’s is packed but the one secret about solo traveling or at least the first one I’m about to impart is this:  always, if there is this option, eat at the bar.

There are so many reasons for this, not the least of which, you can nearly always get a seat quickly.  And it’s more social there.  You typically meet interesting people sitting at the bar.  People, including you, are more approachable.  And bartenders are often very cool.


some kind of delicious salmon croquettes I got

In the case of Lowell’s though, in addition to those things, I also got a view.  Right out the top floor of the market in this quaint restaurant was the Sound.  The beautiful waterfront.

And also, standing there, taunting me, haunting me, teasing me, fascinating me right in my eye line she stands.

My nemesis, the object of my enthrallment and aversion was right there, antagonizing with her steady yet fluid grace, terrifying me.  Magnetizing me.


The Grand Dame.

“What a great view” I remark to the couple sitting next to me as I sip on my mimosa made from homemade Washington berry syrup.


It’s just stunning actually.  I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like this place before.  It’s not the ocean exactly but it feels like the ocean.  It’s not like rowdy Asbury Park in NJ where we went as kids but it has a ferris wheel.

It’s clean, it’s sophisticated, spacious, colorful, diverse; this place feels like a place I belong.

(to be continued)